So, there's been this slightly weird tangent in the Oracle/Google patent & copyright dispute, in which Judge Alsup -- for reasons that are still not clear to anyone -- ordered both companies to disclose the names of
any "authors, journalists, commentators or bloggers who have and/or may publish comments on the issues in [the] case." Both sides made filings last week, with Oracle disclosing -- as was already public -- that it had blogger Florian Mueller on staff as a consultant, and mentioning an Oracle employee who blogged about the case. Google, on the other hand, told the court that it hadn't paid anyone to comment on the case at all, but did mention that in the course of its regular activities, it does give money to various companies, some of whom may have had employees who commented on the story. Judge Alsup came back earlier this week and told Google it didn't try hard enough and to find some names to name.
Earlier today, Google did its filing and apparently found some names... including mine! Yes, I know that we've had some haters declaring for years that I'm a Google shill, so this must be the confirmation of all their conspiracy theories, rumors and attacks, right? Well, no. I'm named in the section about CCIA -- the Computer and Communications Industry Association. Why? Because CCIA sponsored some research that we did. Here's what the filing states:
The CCIA has commissioned studies by Mike Masnick, CEO of Floor64. See
http://www.floor64.com/about.php. Mr. Masnick has commented on the case on the TechDirt
website and on his personal friendfeed.com account. See Ex. X (available at
google-oracle-case.shtml and at http://friendfeed.com/mmasnick/a3a94012/jurygoogle-
And, yes, CCIA has commissioned a study by my company (Floor64) which I co-authored. And that's, uh, public knowledge. Here's my post back in January announcing the Sky is Rising
report, in which it says, upfront, that it was sponsored by CCIA. And, of course, you can go check out the Sky is Rising
report yourself directly, which has a nice big CCIA logo on the front. Hell, if you want, you can also donate some money
for the ebook version -- and it, too, will come with the CCIA logo.
I'm not sure how that has anything to do with Google. Google is a CCIA member, as are a bunch of other companies. And, honestly, if you'd asked me yesterday, I would have said that I thought Oracle was a CCIA member too, because it's an organization that represents a bunch of top tech companies, including Microsoft, eBay, Sprint, Facebook, AMD, Fujitsu, Dish Networks and more. However, it appears that Oracle is not a CCIA member, though I only learned this today from the filing, which also notes that Oracle and Sun used to be CCIA members
. So, I'm not sure what any of that says about anything.
And, of course, if the point of this exercise is to uncover "shills" who are really speaking on behalf of companies without disclosing it, once again this argument falls down. My position on issues related to copyright and patents has been pretty damn consistent since before Google existed. And that continues up until today. I will regularly call out Google for patent
behavior that I believe is bad. And that's because I say what I think. The editorial content of this site has never been for sale, nor will it ever be. Because the only way I survive in this business is with my reputation.
Also, I'm not sure what's with the Friendfeed link in the filing. To be honest, I'd completely forgotten about Friendfeed, which I thought was shut down after Facebook bought the company. But I believe my Friendfeed just sucked in my Twitter account and Techdirt's Twitter account into a single feed. And apparently it lives on without my knowledge.
Separately, because all of this struck me as interesting, I remembered that we did some work with Oracle
too! And, just as with what we did with CCIA, it was disclosed publicly
at the time. Oracle (along with Intel) sponsored a section of our site, and a series of webinars that we did. And yet, Oracle did not disclose me in their original filing and I don't believe that they filed a new filing here either. Of course, as with CCIA, our relationship with Oracle did not include them having any say in editorial either. In fact, with the order as broad as it was from Judge Alsup, I'd argue that there's a much stronger argument that I should be in the Oracle filing than the Google one. But, of course, Oracle didn't include us because it was a random blog sponsorship thing they did a while back which had nothing to do with editorial (or even intellectual property issues).
In the end, this comes right back to some of the concerns
that were raised about Judge Alsup's broad order in the first place. If you want to find tenuous connections, they exist. In fact, Google's filing lists out a bunch of other names (including many people who I know or consider friends), almost all of whom have a long, long history of holding the exact same positions, and where the connection to "Google money" is, at best, weak.
Like many folks, I was curious to see who would be named on both of these lists, but the order was so broad that it seems to have swept me up into it (on one side, though a broad reading says it would make more sense for me to be on the other one!), and that's silly. I'm a big boy and I can handle people not understanding the details here and attacking me, but the fact that we did unrelated research for a different organization that Google is a member of -- and that gets me named on a list of "shills" just doesn't seem right.